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Nick Ahmed: D-backs’ short schedule adds intensity, is like college season

Nick Ahmed #13 of the Arizona Diamondbacks fields a ground ball in the third inning of the MLB game against the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field on June 19, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed acknowledged that the 2020 MLB season will be strange.

It will be strange in part because there isn’t likely to be fans in the stands at Chase Field or cities on the road; at least not very many. It will also be strange because it will be over so quickly, lasting only 60 games in length compared to the normal 162.

“It’s going to be weird, for sure,” Ahmed told reporters Friday. “I think it’s just over a third of our normal schedule. I forget who told this to me the other day, it’s kind of similar to a college season. I think a college season is about a 56-game regular season.

“So thinking back to that time and just how every game was make or break, intense kind of situation. It’s not going to change the way we play the game. We’re always treating it that way. But from a magnitude standpoint, each win or loss could affect the standings that much more quickly.”

Ahmed said he isn’t concerned with the potential health risks of returning to work, even as Arizona comes to the forefront of the pandemic in America.

“I’m not too concerned, personally,” he said. “I just think we take the right precautions, the right protocols are set up. We have some testing in place. We do our best to keep our distance and wear the mask and things like that when we’re in close quarters. I think everyone will be OK. I’m in the personal opinion that you can’t just hide out in your house and hibernate your whole life. You do your best to mitigate the risk as best you can but there’s never going to be no risk at all.”

On a similar note, general manager Mike Hazen said Wednesday that the organization plans to emphasize to players the importance of reducing high-risk behavior.

“High-risk behavior is going to impact you and the person standing next to you and the person standing next to them,” he said. “And we are going to be extremely mindful of it. The protocols are going to answer some of of those things for us. But away from the field, I believe we are going to have to make sure that everybody understands exactly what we mean by high-risk behavior.”

Ahmed spoke to media Friday fresh off the heels of a public stalemate between the players association and Major League Baseball. That disagreement eventually led to the commissioner implementing a season, and Ahmed had a close look at the whole process as the D-backs’ players union representative.

“The only thing that I would say is I was very, very encouraged by the amount of players that were engaged and just the level of engagement,” he said of the negotiating process. “I haven’t really ever seen anything like that in how committed guys were in being educated, understanding the process and just seeing how unified the group of players was. So that’s the only thing I’ll really say on the negotiations side. I really loved how guys came together, how guys shared their opinions and how guys listened and wanted to be a part of the process. So it’s a good thing for the player group going into a [negotiation for a new] CBA in a year and a half here.”

ON PLAYING WITHOUT FANS

Talk about strange: Ahmed discussed what it might be like to play in empty ballparks when the season gets underway. He said he talked to Travis Snider who was in major league spring camp for the D-backs this year and played in the empty game at Camden Yards during unrest in Baltimore in 2015.

“We’re just testing it out in workouts right now, some crowd noise,” Ahmed said. “I’m sure most clubs and ballparks are going to have that this year. So hopefully that will make it feel a little bit less weird, but it’s still going to be so strange just coming out to Chase Field and all the places on the road and not having any fans in the seats. But it is what it is, we can’t change it. We’re just glad that we can get back out there and just let the fans be able to watch on TV at least.”

Listen to the crowd noise in this tweet from teammate David Peralta:


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